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AN ANSWER To the REVEREND Mr. Edwards's Sermon, ON The distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of GOD, &c.

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The late Religious Commotions in New-England considered. AN ANSWER To the Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards's SERMON, Entitled, The distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of GOD, applied to that uncommon Operation that has lately appeared on the Minds of many of the People of this Land.

In a LETTER to a Friend.

Together with A PREFACE, Containing an Examination of the Rev. Mr. WILLIAM COOPER'S Preface to Mr. EDWARDS'S SERMON.

By a Lover of Truth and Peace.

BOSTON: Printed by Green, Bushell, and Allen, for T. Fleet in Cornhil. 1743.

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THE PREFACE.

THE Author of the Preface I am going to examine, is a Gentleman that I nei­ther despise nor fear, and shall therefore treat with good Manners and Free­dom. There are indeed some Passages in his Performance, that are so severe upon such as are arbitrarily called OP­POSERS of the Work of God, and others that look so much like Sneer at those whom he is pleased to call ARMINIANS, that would justify me, should I use a good deal of Severity in my Remarks: However I purpose to be moderate, so far as is consistent with doing any Mea­sure of Justice to the Subject. Whether I keep my Pro­mise, they that read may judge.

This Rev. Gentleman speaks in the most lofty Strains, concerning the late religious Commotions among us; Pref. p. 5. ‘The Dispensation of Grace we are now under, is—in some Circumstances so wonderful, that I believe there has not been the like since the pouring out of the Spirit immediately after our Lord's Ascention. The apostolical Times seem to have returned upon us.—p. 17. I cannot help expressing my Wish, that those who have been Conversant in this Work in one Place and another, would transmit Accounts of it to such a Hand as the Rev. Author of this Discourse, to be compiled into a Narra­tive, [Page 2] like that of the Conversions at North-Hampton,—which perhaps would come the nearest to the Acts of the Apostles of any Thing extant.’ I do not pretend to be very much acquainted with Church-History, but this I believe, that if a Narrative of this Work could be compiled, and the numerous strange Appearances, the infinite Confusions and Distractions, &c. that have been among us were to come into the Account, and set in their proper Light, there would be but few Histories like it. Enthusiastical Times seem to have returned upon us.

I deny not but that there have been many in the Country "under such religious Impressions as they never felt before;" neither do I doubt but that there have been Instances of ge­nuine sound Conversion.—And I know of none who dissent from this Opinion. But then hath not this been the Case, even when Enthusiasm hath most prevailed? And yet, I suppose that this Gentleman would think himself injured, if called a Friend to Enthusiasm, or tho't ready to write in favour of visionary Times, and put them nearly upon a Level with those of the Apostles. That Good hath been done, is grant­ed on all Hands; but it is denied by many, that near so much hath been done, as to warrant this Gentleman's high Encomium upon the Work.—And indeed it is the Opi­nion of some of the most thoughtful, discerning, serious Men among us, who may be tho't to have the Honour of GOD, and the Interest of the Redeemer's Kingdom as much at Heart, and would be as ready to give the divine SPIRIT the Glory of a remarkable Work of Conviction and Conversion, as the most zealous forward Contenders for the Times.—I say, it is the Opinion of such, that seperate from what is called the Work, enthusiastic Impulses, and such-like Con­comitants, and you reduce it to a small Thing, that is, in Compare with what it is made to be by some who have wrote upon it. This, I say, that Persons at a Distance, who may be desirous to know the present State of Religion here, into whose Hands these Papers will come, may receive some Satisfac­tion; And not be led into Mistakes thro' the exaggerated Accounts which have been sent abroad. I would not how­ever [Page 3] be tho't to charge any with wilful Enlargements beyond Reason and Justice, much less the Gentleman who wrote the Preface, who I believe hath spoken only his real Senti­ments.

We have, in p. 7. the Character of those Preachers, who it is said first began the Work, and that they are "Good Men," I will not deny;—neither that they ‘preached from Place to Place with uncommon Zeal and Assiduity;’ and no Doubt their Zeal and Assiduity created them a great Number of Admirers; but however, by themselves, are no certain Evidences of Goodness. Who more zealous and assiduous than the Pharisees in our Lord's Time; than the begging FRYARS, and IGNATIUS LOYOLA the Father of the Jesuites?—And yet our Lord, an unerring Judge of Men, gives the Pharisees the worst Character in the World; and I believe that neither Mr. COOPER, nor any other Protestant, thinks that the other deserve a very good one.

But then, These Gentlemen were not only zealous and assiduous, but they preached sound Doctrine, "the Doc­trines of the Reformation." Had they preached no other than the Doctrines of the Reformation, and that with more Ar­gument and less Censoriousness, it would have been happy for the Country.—But who knows not that one of them frequently asserted, That an unconverted Minister can no more be instrumental in the Conversion of a Sinner, than a dead Man can beget a living Child!—And that another said what was almost tantamount to it.—This it is to be hoped is not a Doctrine of the Reformation, because not a Doctrine of the Gospel.—And having advanced that Step, the next was to assert or at least to insinuate that many, if not most, of the Ministers in the Country were unconverted. And now, however ‘the Power of Godliness might flourish under the Doctrines of the Reformation in the last Century,’ it is not likely that it should flourish under such Doctrines and Assertions in this or in any other.—No;—the immediate, natural, direct Tendency of such Preaching is to obstruct the Power of God­liness: It tends to make People afraid of their Ministers, [Page 4] to leaven their Minds with Prejudice against them, to slight their Sermons and Advice, and seperate from them:—And we are now feeling the dire Effects of such Preaching.—Schisms abound in our Churches; occasioned by an unrighteous Suspicion of Ministers being unconverted.—And tho' these Divisions may be by some attributed to the zealous assiduous Labours of some later Itinerants, yet I am enclined to think that they had proved in vain, had not the more popular Leaders advanced such harsh Things respecting the Ministers.—The latter only watered the Seed which the former had sowed, which hath sprung up in so great Plenty, and is like to choke the Fruits of Righteousness, unless the heavenly Husbandman mercifully prevent.—For my own Part, at all Adventures, I will say it, I believe that the pre­sent Seperations ought to be placed to the Account of that Number of Preachers which Mr. COOPER alludes to; which indeed would not be just were they only the accidental Consequences of what they taught, but inasmuch as they are the natural genuine Product of it, let them bear the Blame. Indeed it must be acknowledged that a lesser Share of it falls upon Mr. TENNENT, because he hath owned his Heat and Rashness, and expressed some Concern for it; tho' not e­nough yet.—And it is to be hoped that if any other of that "Number of Preachers" who have been like him in Heat and Rashness should visit us again, that they will be more frank than he in their Acknowledgments, and set themselves out of Justice and Charity to heal those unhappy Contentions and Schisms which out of Ignorance and misguided Zeal they have made.

Another Doctrine that we heard from those Gentlemen, is that of Impulses and inward Feelings of the SPIRIT, which is not any more than the other, a Doctrine of the Reforma­tion; but a Doctrine of Enthusiasts;—and is of the most per­nicious Tendency; opening the Way to Delusions of every Kind, Errors in Judgment and in Practice:—And of this the Rev. Gentlemen (among whom is Mr. COOPER) who subscribed the Declaration respecting Mr. JAMES DAVEN­PORT and his Conduct, were not insensible, giving it as one [Page 5] Reason why they did not admit him into their Pulpits, that he was "deeply tinctured with a Spirit of Enthusiasm." Here I cannot help remarking, that Mr. DAVENPORT'S Spirit of Enthusiasm, is but another Phrase for those inward Feelings which a famous Gentleman insisted upon, and yet no De­claration respecting Him was published, nor was it so much as lisped that the Doctrine was false and of bad Tendency.—The Reason of which I shall not here enquire after.—It may not be said that the Doctrine of inward Feelings is ca­pable of a good Meaning as it may be explained, for that will not help the Preacher off at all, because if we look into his Writings, and his Practice upon the Doctrine, and allow him to be his own Expositor, we shall find that the inward Feelings he meant to recommend, were nothing better than enthusiastic Joys and Impulses.—I hope I may be excused the Trouble of making Quotations on this Head.

‘The Manner of their Preaching is not with the entic­ing Words of Man's Wisdom: Howbeit they speak Wisdom among them that are perfect. p. 7. What does Mr. COOPER mean by this?—Is not Mr. WHITEFIELD a good deal of an Orator? We refer now to Style and Elocution.—For as to the external Qualifications, he hath them, beyond all Dispute, in a remarkable Degree. Was there nothing arti­ficial and studied in his Compositions?—Did not he seek for the most moving pathetic Language? Were not his Discourses calculated to work upon the Passions?—And as to his immediate Successor, tho' he did not equal Mr. WHITE­FIELD in Choice of Words, and affecting Language, yet it was evident, that when he did not extemporize, he was sol­licitous about a good Expression; and whoever reads his printed Sermons, will find that he does not hold in Contempt the enticing Words of Man's Wisdom; i. e. florid Language.

When I consider these Things, I can scarce account for this Part of the Gentlemen's Character, as it stands in Mr. COOPER'S Preface;—unless it be thus, That the ‘apos­tolical Times being returned upon us,’ it was judged decent and proper to speak of the Instruments, as the Apostles are spoken of in the New-Testament.

[Page 6] ‘God hath evidently wrought with them; and confirm­ed the Word by Signs following. Such a Power and Pre­sence of God in religious Assemblies, has not been known since God set up his Sanctuary among us.’—That Peo­ple were much affected when these Gentlemen preached, is conceded: And that this might be in some Instances thro' the Co-operation of the SPIRIT of GOD with the Word preached, I will not deny: But we can by no Means allow, That the Effects produced were certain incontestible Evidences of the extraordinary Power and Presence of GOD in the As­semblies.—The Hearers gave great Attention, and Num­bers were melted into Tears.—What then? Must this cer­tainly be owing to the divine Power and Presence?—If other as probable Reasons may be assigned, then I think it is Forwardness peremptorily to ascribe this to the Power and Presence of GOD.—Now there were several Things con­curring which had a Tendency in a natural Way to work upon the Passions of the People.—They were much pre­judiced in Favour of these Preachers.—The Character of the first arrived here before the Gentleman himself, set in the best Light.—He was spoken of in the most extraordinary Manner by some of the leading Ministers.—When he came, happy was he that could first salute him, more so he that could first get him to preach.—This the People saw.—When the Gentleman appeared in the Pulpit, he was found to be THE ORATOR he had been described.—He preached with great Zeal and Assiduity.—He preached every Day, and for the most part twice, which was a Thing altogether new among us, and greatly helped his Reputati­on, and led some to think that to be sure he had extraordi­nary Strength communicated from Heaven.—He was con­stantly attended by some of the gravest and most venerable, and by some of the most popular Ministers among us.—And when their Turn to preach a Lecture came about, that Gentleman to be sure must take it.—This still height­ned his Character.—Add to this, that he made great Pre­tensions to extraordinary Communion with GOD and CHRIST, and placed himself high in their Favour.—My Master hath [Page 7] sent me, What shall I tell my Master, I will tell my Master, I will arise up against you at the last Day, were Phrases often in his Mouth, and they with some others that he used are very striking to vulgar Minds.—And now what wonder if a Person thus qualified and circumstanced, should affect the People.

As to the Gentleman who came next, he came under the Advantage of a favourable Character from his admired Predecessor. Mr. WHITEFIELD had spoken well of Mr. TENNENT, and indeed had preferred him to all other Mi­nisters he was acquainted with in the Country.—He took a very long Journey in a severe Winter,—preach'd often,—was exceedingly caress'd by several of the Ministers, was bold and daring, and used no Notes no more than Mr. WHITE­FIELD.—So that he also was qualified to affect.

Besides, I am prone to think that the People sometimes affected one another.—Tears are apt to produce Tears in the Spectators.—I know a Person who made one at a religious Assembly in the Days of the Gentlemen we have been speaking of, who by seeing others weep fell to Weeping too;—and it may be that was the Case with more in the Audience: It is not at all unlikely.

Now by such Observations as these we may, in a natural Way, account for the Affectings and Meltings in the re­ligious Assemblies without supposing them the Effects of the divine Power and Presence.—For my own Part, when I make them, and especially when I observe upon the Force of Oratory, I am at no Loss nor Doubt, in General, about the Cause.—And since I have mentioned the Force of Ora­tory, I will illustrate it by an Instance; which, as it re­spects merely the mechanical Parts of Oratory, will set the Matter in a very good Light. A Gentleman then of very good Sense and Probity informed me, that he was once greatly affected by a Romish Priest, who was delivering a Sermon, tho' he understood not a single Sentence that he spake.:—Such was his Voice—such his Gesture—so passio­nate was his Manner—so well did he talk with his Hands [Page 8] and his Eyes, that in Spite of himself, the Gentleman could not forbear weeping.

Having mentioned a Romish Preacher of great Ta­lents as an Actor, let Mr. COOPER give me Leave to carry him into a Romish Assembly sitting under such a Preacher, and what serious Attention, what Gravity, what Tears do we find? The Auditory are as much affected by a Man preaching Superstition and Absurdity, as ever any Protestant Assemblies were by their Ministers preaching the reverse.—Yet from their "Looks and Deport­ment", from their being serious and affected it may not be concluded that they have the Power and Presence of GOD among them.—But to come nearer Home, suppose any of the Moravian Brethren should affect their Auditories to a great Degree (which is not unlikely according to the Cha­racter Mr. TENNENT hath given of them) would Mr. COOPER attribute it to the Power and Presence of GOD attending their Ministry?—I am of the Mind, that in the Case of such Ministers and such Affectings, we should hear that the Ministers had an insinuating Way, a Faculty of mo­ving the Passions, and find the Orator have the Honour of all that was done.—We should not then be told of the Power and Presence of GOD.—Now if a Catholic or Mo­ravian may greatly affect an Auditory by the mere Force of Oratory, why must it necessarily be any more than that by which other Preachers affect theirs.

We pass on,

‘The Work is truly extraordinary in Respect of the Extent of it. It is more or less in the several Provinces that Measure many hundred Miles on this Continent,’ says Mr. COOPER, p. 8. To which I say, that humane Nature is humane Nature.—Persons in different Provinces have the same Passions. If certain Means affect some Per­sons in one Place, it is nothing wonderful if the same Means affect some in another.—And this same Observation may be applied to what is said about ‘the Number, and Variety of Persons’ who are said to be the Subjects of this Work.

[Page 9] But we may not dismiss this Part of the Preface until we have expostulated a little with the Author upon some of the peremptory Assertions contained in it. ‘Some elderly Persons have been snatch'd as Brands out of the Burn­ing, made Monuments of divine Mercy, and born to GOD.’ p. 8. It may be so, I deny it not. But pray, Sir, how do you know it? To me it is a surprizing Thing that any Gentleman should publish such an Account with the same Positiveness, as a Person would speak of natural Births. Sure I am, there is not equal Reason for it. When a Man is born again, his Heart is changed, but the Heart is out of our View.—How then can we positively say that the Heart of any Man is changed.—He may tell us so, but he may either design to deceive us, or be deceived himself.—His Language may be changed: His sinful Customs and Habits interrupted, and his external Conduct be very different from what it was; and yet notwithstanding this, he may be no­thing better than a gross Hypocrite, or if sincere now, may finally prove an Apostate. Conviction of Sin, and Absti­nence from wonted Crimes may be where there is no true Love to GOD in the Soul.—So that I think Mr. COOPER ought not to have been quite so dogmatical in this Assertion.—And I should be glad to have him of the same Mind.—When we speak of Matters of this Nature, it would not be amiss to say, we hope, or there is Reason to believe, or to use some other the like qualifying Expressions; especially when we our selves are not Witnesses to any Change at all in Persons, but have it upon the Testimony of others, as was the Case with Mr. COOPER respecting this Particular, as is evident from what follows, ‘But with us (sc. the Work) hath lain mostly among the Young’ which is justly said, and may with equal Reason be said respecting other Places.—The Work hath every where lain mostly among the Young, and most of all among those of the weaker Sex.

But should it be allowed that some elderly Persons have been born to GOD, yet why should it be mentioned as something entirely new and unexpected.—It is to be hoped that this was the Case with some such, before the Year [Page 10] 1740, of which the Pastors of these Churches regularly officiating in their Cures were the Instruments: And had no Strangers came among us, it is to be hoped not the fewer would have been born to God: Tho' Mr. COOPER perhaps cannot prevail with himself to think so.

‘Out of the Mouths of Babes, some little Children, has GOD ordained to himself Praise.’ p. 9. Upon which let me observe, that at a Time when there is a great deal of Talk about Religion, it is no wonder if some Chil­dren should speak now and then in a religious Strain: This may be accounted for without recurring to a divine In­fluence as the Cause. Imitation is natural to Children, especially in Language; and when such Imitation is taken notice of with apparent Pleasure and Applause, it is nothing marvellous if it encreases, and the pious Expressions they hear are caught, and repeated by them.—Whilst at the same Time they understand not what they say, and speak only by Rote.

Mr. COOPER tells us farther, That he ‘Trusts some poor Negroes have been vindicated into the glorious Liberty of the Children of GOD.’ p. 9—What Foun­dation he hath for his Trust, I know not But if it be no­thing more than their having been affected with some Mi­nisters so particularly and frequently addressing them, or their making use of some good Expressions, or the like Things with these, Mr. COOPER'S Trust is ill-grounded and vain.—Can he say that the Manners of these People are altered? And that among other Instances of this, that they are be­come better Servants, more faithful, diligent, honest and obe­dient to their own Masters.—If this cannot be said, they are just where they were before.—And I believe that is pretty much the Case.

This Gentleman asserts, That ‘some of the Learned and Knowing among Men, have had those Things reveal­ed to them of the Father in Heaven, which Flesh and Blood do not teach.’ Ibid. If it be so, I am glad to hear it. But who these Learned and Knowing referred to are, I cannot so much as guess.

[Page 11] As to Mr. COOPER'S other Classes, together with their Convictions, Reformation, &c. we cannot observe upon them, because we must leave Room for other Things. On­ly we cannot help remarking here the Gentleman's various Distributions of Persons, in order to make the Narrative the more pompous.—Old and Young, Great and Rich and Low and Poor, Learned and Ignorant, Negroes, the [...] and Airy, &c. &c.

And here let me tell Mr. COOPER that it would be no difficult Task, according to what I have heard, to make nearly the same Distribution, and give an Account under each Head, of as great Irregularities, Follies, and Wicked­nesses as were ever known in the Country. But to engage in such an Affair would be invidious, and is what I have an Aversion to: Only when Gentlemen are carrying some Things too high, it is not amiss to give them a Hint, which may be serviceable.—To be sure, we have infinite Reason, at this Day, to be humble before GOD, on Account of the numerous impudent Vices of the Land, however some would represent us as a very reformed People.

We go on to what is said in the 11th Page of the Preface.—‘One Thing more is worthy Remark; and that is the Uniformity of the Work.—It is the same Work that is carried on in one Place and another: The Method of the Spirit's Operation on the Minds of People is the same; tho' with some Variety of Circumstances, as is usual at other Times: And the particular Appearances with which this Work is attended, that have not been so com­mon at other Times, are also much the same.’

Mr. COOPER then tells us that the particular Appearances (of which I wish he had given us some Account) "are objected by many against the Work."—In answer to the Objectors he says,—‘It seems reasonable to suppose, That at an extraordinary Season, wherein GOD is pleased to carry on a Work of his Grace, in a more observable and glorious Manner—there may be some particular Appearances in the Work of Conversion, [Page 12] which are not common at other Times, when yet there are true Conversions wrought.’

But let it be reasonable to suppose, That "at an extra­ordinary Season of Grace," there may be some uncommon Appearances; yet it is not reasonable to suppose, That those uncommon Appearances shall be such as to cause "MANY to object against the Work" it self; the very End and Design of those Appearances, according to the Hypothesis, being to promote the Work.—If "in carrying on a Work of Grace," for the more speedy accomplishing of it, or to make it more gloriously extensive, God should cause or al­low any uncommon Appearances, it is not probable that they should be such, as look exceedingly like the Effects of bodily Indisposition, or a sickly Imagination, the ungoverned Pas­sions of Men, or the Influences of the evil Spirit.—It is not reasonable to suppose, that there should be such Appea­rances, as have ever been rife among Enthusiasts and Visio­naries, in order to carry on a Work of God's Grace: They being likely to obstruct such a Work, instead of promoting it.—For where there are such Appearances there is Rea­son to think that the Work is not divine, and of Consequence it will not be attended to or regarded by the World.

‘As to the Fruits of this Work (which we have been bid so often to wait for) so far as there has been Time for Observation, they appear to be abiding,’ p. 12. i. e. as the Writer explains himself, ‘A great Number of those who have been awakened, are still seeking and striving to enter in at the strait Gate.—The most of those who have been thought to be converted, continue to give Evidences of their being new Creatures.’ However that some had "lost their Impressions" and proved "Apos­tates, and Hypocrites," this Gentleman allows; which I think fully justifies those who bid the warm and sanguine Friends to the Works, wait a Time to see the Issue of Things. And it is worth observing, tho' Mr. COOPER did not see Cause to say it, That some who were at first tho't to be the most eminent Converts, soon proved no better than Hypo­crites. And hath there not lately been more Reason for [Page 13] Suspensions and Excommunications from some Churches than formerly?

As to the Evidences which any give of their being New­Creatures, if they are Scripture Evidences, it is Occasion for Joy and Hope concerning them.—But are they indeed such? I think Meekness, Humility, Peaceableness, Love, and Good Works, are essential to the New-Creature. And have large Numbers lately given such Evidences as these, of their being created anew?—It is notorious, that among ma­ny of the great Zealots for the Times, there hath been and is a Spirit diametrically opposite to the Spirit of Christianity: A Spirit of Censoriousness, Reviling, Clamour, Insolence, Spite, and Malice.—The People indeed may sometimes talk in a serious Way: They may visit their Ministers fre­quently, and extol the Good Work, and the Instruments of it; they may attend the Worship of GOD on the LORD'S Day, at Lectures, and at PRIVATE MEETINGS; and do many other Things that make a goodly Shew; but yet if they are under the Dominion of Pride, Uncharitableness, and Passion, they belong not to the Number of New-Crea­tures: They are yet carnal. And if this be not the Case with many at this Day, who by some are judged to be New­Creatures, I am greatly mistaken.

"To be sure, a new Face of Things continues in this Town," says this Gentleman, and then shews in what Re­spects: Ibid. Taverns, Dancing-Schools, and Assemblies,—are much less frequented.—Dress and Aparrel are re­duced.—Religion is much more the Subject of Conver­sation at Friends Houses, than ever I knew it.—The Doctrines of Grace are espoused and relish'd.—Private religious Meetings are greatly multiplied.—The pub­lick Assemblies (especially Lectures) are much better attended: And our Auditories were never so attentive and serious. There is indeed an extraordinary Appetite after the sincere Milk of the Word.

[Page 14] This is the Alteration in the Face of Things in BOSTON, according to Mr. COOPER: And tho' we will find no Fault with such an Alteration, yet if this Gentleman could with Justice have added, that People were become more ho­nest, and just, and kind, and merciful, more punctual to their Words, better Neighbours, better Relatives, that they bridled their Tongues better, and in general were more cir­cumspect in their Behaviour; this would have made the Face of Things beautiful indeed.—And then any Character he might have given the Work would not have been too good.—But he knew that the Alteration did not lie here.—So that the "apostolical Times" are hardly returned upon them in BOSTON:—For those were Times when such Fruits as these abounded, Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suf­fering, Gentleness or Courteousness, Goodness, Faith or Fidelity, Meekness, Temperance.

Mr. COOPER having presented us, and those abroad, with something of a Narrative of the Work, gathers him­self up, and says, "And now can any be at a Loss to what Spirit to ascribe this Work?"—Indeed, Sir, it is not Demonstration that it is all from the SPIRIT of GOD.—Those who, you say, attribute it to the old Serpent, I leave to dispute the Point with you; tho' I cannot help thinking that you will have by far the better of the Argument with them, and that they are rash, and worse than rash, in im­puting the whole of it to him.—There are undoubtedly other Causes besides satanic Influence to be assigned for the greatest Part of it.

I shall pass what this Gentleman says respecting the Pre­judices of Persons against this Work, with observing that Assertion and Conjecture are very easy Things, and that the Persons that are by him supposed prejudiced, could, if they pleased, in their Turn, talk of the Prejudices of others. Only it may be expected, that we take Notice of that Pas­sage, p. 15. ‘Others perhaps may dislike the present [Page 15] Work, because it supports and confirms some Principles which they have not yet embraced, and against which such Prejudices hang about their Minds, as they cannot easily shake off. For it is certain these Fruits do not grow on Arminian Ground.

I think the Gentleman hath here made a considerable Discovery of himself, and hath so far opened his Heart to us, that without being liable to the Charge of Rashness and Presumption, we may venture to assign a Reason for some Parts of his Conduct.—Now, we think, we know what partly induced the Gentleman to write his Account of the Work; why the Work is so much extolled, and Mr. COOPER so very angry with those he calls Opposers of the Work.—It con­firms some Principles:—The Work argues strongly in fa­vour of this Gentleman's Principles, and so long as that sup­ports them, he will support that.—Some Persons Preju­dices are latent, but Mr. COOPER'S are not of that sort.—They lie open and exposed.—But after all, it is to be hoped that this Gentleman hath some better Prop for his Principles than what this Work affords.—It is vain to imagine that the Work will be the Means of promoting some Principles for which this Gentleman hath a great Re­gard. It is much more likely that thro' the Violence and Imprudence of its Friends, it will prove a mighty Injury to other Principles that we may suppose dearer to this Gen­tleman than those so frequently alluded to. If I mistake not the Infidels Laugh, and expect a Harvest from the Times, and there is a great Concern among many of the Friends to Revelation, left they should not be disappoint­ed.

"It is certain these Fruits do not grow on Arminian Ground." It is pity that some Fruit should grow upon any Ground. Spleen, Bigotry, and Uncharitableness.—But what are these Fruits that this Ground will not yield? Mr. COOPER hath not told us expresly.—If he means the [Page 16] Fruits of Righteousness, the Fruits of Love to GOD, Love to CHRIST, and to Mankind for their sakes, as I believe he does, I am exceeding sorry for the Assertion.—What shall we think of the Remonstrant or Arminian Churches in HOL­LAND, which have subsisted for more than a Century? That they have been entirely barren of good Fruits, from their original Settlement to this Day.—Shall we think that GOD hath given no Increase to the Labours of their Mi­nisters.—Does this Gentleman suppose, that all that have sat under their Ministrations have been and are in an unre­generate State: That those of them that are deceased are damned: And that the End of the Survivors is to be burned, unless they change their Principles.—I am astonished at the Narrowness of some Gentlemen.

To go on,—

—Was not Dr. ANTHONY HORNECK what they call an Arminian, and yet he is judged by all to have been an Instrument of converting many Souls.—Mr. RICHARD BAXTER (who wrote the Call to the Uncon­verted, and numerous other excellent Books) was at least half an Arminian.—And what Man since the Apostles Days did more towards building up the Kingdom of CHRIST, than he by his Preaching, Visits, and Writings?—There are many other Divines that we might name, who were called ARMINIANS, that have thro' the divine Blessing been successful Labourers in CHRIST'S Vineyard.—So that it is not certain that the Fruits of Righteousness cannot grow upon Arminian Ground.—

But before I quit this, I cannot help asking whether Mr. WHITEFIELD himself did not grow upon this Ground; one to whom ‘we are sometimes ready to apply that Cha­racter given of Barnabas, That he was a good Man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of Faith. It appears from his own Account that he was converted by a professed Arminian, for such is Mr. WESLEY.—And whilst Mr. WHITEFIELD [Page 17] continued an Arminian, for such he once was, did not the same Fruits grow upon his Ground, as have done since? And whilst he was labouring in AMERICA, were not the same Effects that were produced here by his Labours, pro­duced at home by the Labours of Mr. WESLEY and others in his Scheme.—I leave these Things to the Consideration of Mr. COOPER.

—And now the least the Writer expects is to be called an Arminian, and to some it will appear, no doubt, as plain that he is one, as that none that pass under that Name can be saved.—But I can assure them that if he be so named, he will be wrongly named.

—And as to being an Opposer of a real Work of GOD, GOD forbid that that should be justly said of him. He can heartily say after the aged and venerable Mr. CLAP of NEWPORT, as we have it in a late printed Letter of his, I wish all the Conversions they tell about were true Conversions.

To what is said respecting Persons being in more Danger now of committing the Sin against the HOLY GHOST than at other Times, I shall make no Reply. Only will say this, That if what the Gentleman hath spoken upon this Head had "dropt from his Pen." without so much Forethought and Coolness of Spirit, it might have been as well.

As to Mr. COOPER'S Character of the Sermon he Prefaces, whether it be just, the World hath judged before this Time: And what Character the following Answer to it deserves, must be submitted to their Judgment.—This we may say, That "a Performance of this kind is seasonable and ne­cessary," that it contains no indecent harsh Language, and "the Arguments are drawn from Scripture, Reason, and Experience."—So we dismiss Mr. COOPER'S Preface, and finish what we have to say of the following Papers.

[Page 18] Before I conclude this Discourse, I cannot help expres­sing my Concern respecting the religious Interests of the Country, and suggesting a few Things that may be service­able, if attended to.

It is certainly an exceeding difficult gloomy Time with us. Such an enthusiastic, factious, censorious Spirit was never known here.—A vain conceited Temper prevails.—Chil­dren can teach their Parents and their Ministers.—Every low-bred illiterate Person can resolve Cases of Conscience, and settle the most difficult Points of Divinity, better than the most learned Divines.—A learned Ministry is despised by many, and Seminaries of Literature are spoken against as injurious to Religion.—Conversions are spoken of with the same Air, as a Person would tell a Piece of common News.—Some of the most sober, exemplary, pious Men, if not for the Times, are loaded with opprobrious Names.—The Churches are full of Contention.—We are crumbling into Sects which Time must find a Name for.—But do I mean to give a Catalogue of all the bad Things among us? No; that would be a hard Task indeed.—They are so many and notorious, that some Gentlemen, who think very favourably of the Work, have testified against some of them.—Had they done it sooner, they might have been nipt in the Bud, but now, it may be, it is beyond their Skill to put an End to them.—What the Issue of these Things will be, GOD knows.—It is enough sure to make every serious considerate Person uneasy to look around and view the present State of the Country, and conjecture what is to come; and it concerns all such, especially Mi­nisters, to exert themselves, lest the latter End of these Things be worse than the Beginning.

How much is it to be wished, That our Ministers would, laying aside all Heat and Animosity, and the Use of Party Names, as Arminians and Antinomians, endeavour to strengthen each others Hands, and help each the others [Page 19] Usefulness. The Circumstances of the Day are such, as strongly demand an union of Affection among them; and if it might to a good Degree be brought about, we might hope then to see a good Work indeed going on. But if they will be stiff and tenacious, and make no Condescenti­ons to each other; if they will treat one another with Bit­terness and Severity, we may expect that our present Con­fusions will remain, if not that greater will arise.

—We go on:—

At such a Time as this, it concerns Persons to take Care lest they cast Reflections upon the Religion of the Gospel, on Account of the Errors, Fancies, or Faults of its Pro­fessors.—Think not that because some Christians are en­thusiastical, that none are sober; that because some are un­charitable and censorious, that all are so; that because some high Pretenders to Religion prove Hypocrites, that all who make a Profession of it are no better.—Make an Estimate of Christianity, not from this or that or the other Set of Men, but from the original Records, the Books of the New-Testament.—And let me recommend to all Per­sons the diligent Study of the BIBLE.—Believe no Man, however knowing, pious or zealous; however peremptory or popular.—Prove all Things by the Standard of Scrip­ture.—You have a right to do this; it is your Duty: It is your Interest.To the Law and to the Testimony.—Let every Thing that is called GOD'S Work, be tried by his Word.

And whilst you are studying the Scriptures, neglect not fervent Prayer to the great Author of them, that you may be led to the Knowledge of all necessary important Truth.—Be willing to do your Duty, and you shall know of the Doctrine whither it be of God.—Be meek and teachable, and you shall be taught your Way.—This is the best Advice we can give.—It is meant well; and if regarded, it may prove happy Advice, especially in this critical Day.

[Page 20] Thus we have gone over what was designed, not solli­citous about Accuracy, excepting as it regards Truth.—If any Thing that hath been said should offend any serious, judicious, catholic Christian, it would occasion Uneasiness: But if those of another Character are offended, we shall give our selves no Pain about it.—If any find Fault, are disposed to Answer, and will do it with Calmness, they may receive as calm a Reply.

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[Page 1]

A LETTER to a Friend, Concerning the late Religious Commotions IN NEW-ENGLAND.

Dear SIR,

ACcording to your Desire and my Promise, I here give you my Thoughts upon the wonderful Things of a religious Nature, that have appeared of late in this Land.

You are well aware of the fiery Zeal and violent Contests, which these Things have been unhappily the Occasion of. It is no uncommon Thing for Persons to discover Abundance of angry Zeal and Bitterness of Spirit, in discoursing of those Things, which ought to be discoursed of with all possible Meekness and Calmness of Mind.

[Page 2] I always account it a Rule, That the more Zeal and Pas­sion any one indulges in treating of controversial Points, the less likely he is to hit upon the Truth. I profess my self to be a Lover of Truth; and hope you will not assent to any Thing, that I here offer, but what upon the strictest Exami­nation, appears to be such. Let not the peculiar Friendship there is between us prejudice your Mind in Favour of what I write; but consider it as it is in it self, and not as it comes from your Friend.

I know, in the present Controversy, each of the contend­ing Parties accuse the other of being prejudiced in Favour of their respective Cause; as it is common in all Controver­sies whatever. How far such a Pretence on either Side may be just, impartial Judges (if any such there be) may de­termine.

I will only observe here a Pretence against the Opposers of the present Work (as they are called) viz. That they are actuated and blinded by a Spirit of Envy, &c. They observe the wonderful Success of some zealous Ministers, and other Christians, in carrying on the Work of GOD, and envy them the Honour of being made instrumental to promote so glorious a Work, while they themselves have no Part of the Honour, and this envious Spirit blinds their Minds, and makes them to be ill affected to the Work it self. This is no uncommon Insinuation: And herein, as in many other Cases, there is a Discovery of the Want of that Charity which hopeth all Things.

But suppose that in some Instances, there might be Room to fear that Envy was at the Bottom of Opposition; yet may it not be asked, Whether the zealous Promoters of this Work may not be in Danger of being prejudiced in Favour of their own Scheme, thro' a Principle of Pride.—Suppose, for Instance, That any Thing should happen, that with all impartial Persons, should render it suspicious whether there had been any remarkable Work of GOD carried on in the Land, or not; or, at least, Whether there had been so much of it as hath been supposed by many: I ask, Whether a Principle of Pride in those who had laid themselves out for [Page 3] the promoting this Work, would not influence them still to maintain with Zeal, that it is the Work of GOD, lest they should be deprived of the Honour of having converted so many Souls? I know not why Pride may not as strong­ly prejudice the Mind in one Case, as Envy in the other.—I hope these zealous Gentlemen will not pretend that they are not as subject to Pride, as their Brethren are to Envy.

If there are such Prejudices on either Side, it is much to be lamented.—On the one Hand, it should be considered, That if GOD is carrying on a glorious Work of Grace a­mong us, it is what all have Reason to rejoice in, let who will be the Instruments improved in it; and it is reasonable GOD should have the Glory.—On the other Hand, it ought to be considered, That it is a great Dishonour to GOD to attribute that to HIM, and call that HIS Work, which is unworthy of him; and that it would be of very dangerous Consequence to the Souls of Men, who are too apt to rest in a counterfeit Conversion.

I desire to pursue the Argument I have undertaken, with a due Regard to both these Considerations.

In remarking upon Mr. Edwards's Discourse, I shall fol­low his Method, beginning with his negative Instances, and shall endeavour to shew, That these Things, instead of ar­guing a Work to be a Work of the Spirit of GOD, do ra­ther offer a strong Presumption to the contrary.

1. The first, in this Kind, is the Works being carried on in a Way very unusual and extraordinary. Not that the Strangeness of the Manner, in which a Work is wrought: its being done in a Way which is new and uncommon, is in it self simply considered a conclusive Argument, either in Prejudice or Favour of it. Some Works there have been (I mean of Grace) very extraordinary both in Themselves and the Way of their being carried on, of which the blessed GOD was undoubtedly the Author. And other Works there have been (of the like Kind in Pretension) very extraor­dinary also, which could be ascrib'd to no other Cause than Satanic Influence; or, what is almost as bad, to the wild [Page 4] Hurry of an enthusiastic Imagination. That therefore, on the Account of which a Work is called extraordinary, ought always to be taken into Consideration, in order to judge whether it be a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD. If it is denominated Unusual and Extraordinary on Account of any remarkable Assistance granted to the Instruments, or any miraculous Things done by them, as was the Case with Respect to Moses, CHRIST and his Apostles: Or, if it be called Extraordinary for its making Men, in an ex­traordinary Degree, Partakers of the divine Nature, and living Images of CHRIST JESUS; and this, not only in here and there an Instance, but in great Numbers, not only in one Place, but in many;—When this is the Case, the Work being Unusual and Extraordinary, instead of being an Argument against it, is a strong Evidence that it is a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD: But if it hath the Name of Unusual and Extraordinary for this Reason chiefly, that it is unlike to the SAME WORK of the SAME DIVINE SPIRIT in all Places, and in all Ages; as having new and unhear'd-of Concomitants and Effects; this Kind of Strange­ness in the Work ought, in Reason, to be esteemed a Mark of Suspicion: Especially, if that in the Work which is thus new and unusual, hath ever been so among all sober Christians, but common and ordinary among Enthusiasts; their very Guise, what hath always appeared among them as their distinguishing Mark and known Characteristic. This Kind of Strangeness attending a Work cannot but admini­ster just Ground of Fear and Jealousy, whether it be a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD; or rather it is an Argu­ment to the Contrary, and that it is the Effect of a deluded or over-heated Imagination.

2. Secondly, Another Thing which is no good Sign of a Work of the SPIRIT is its being accompanied with violent Effects upon the Bodies of Men; causing them to shriek out, fall down, and swoon away; and in brief to have on them all the symptoms of bodily Distress and Agony.

[Page 5] Such Effects have been common of late, in one Place and another, not upon here and there a Person only, but great Multitudes; and this, at the same Time, and in the same Congregation. And it is no Wonder if People find­ing themselves unable to account for these Things have been ready to attribute them to the immediate extraordinary Agency of the divine SPIRIT: And such a Conception of the Matter hath, it may be, been too much encouraged by some Preachers who have too easily given into such Appearances, as evident Tokens of an extraordinary Influence of the Holy GHOST.

I presume not to determine, that a Work of the SPIRIT cannot be attended with such Effects upon Men's Bodies; but thus far, I think, I may venture to say, that where­ever these Effects are, there is great Reason to fear, lest that should be mistaken for the wonderful Operation of the Holy SPIRIT which may be nothing more than the Work­ing of Men's natural Passions, heightned to an undesirable Excess: And if instead of hastily and dogmatically ascribing these Effects to the blessed SPIRIT, as their Author, Men would rather speak of them under the Guard of a heedful Suspicion, they would discover a Temper and Conduct which would much adorn their Character.

It is well known to all, in any tolerable Degree acquain­ted with the History of former Times, that bodily Agitations, Convulsions, Tremblings, Swoonings, and the like, have been common in the christian Church. But among whom have they been so? Not among the sober and judicious; but among those who have been evidently under the Power of an ungovern'd Imagination. It is no rare Thing to read of the Groanings, Quakings, Foamings, Roarings and Faint­ings, both of Men and Women, Old and Young; yea, and of little, very little Children. But what is exceeding re­markable, these Effects are to be met with, in NO PLACE, in NO AGE, among Christians of Solidity, and a known exemplary Regard to the main and substantial Parts of Re­ligion. Look over the History of the Church, even from the Days of CHRIST to the present Time, and you will [Page 6] find no such Appearances among Christians of an establish'd Reputation for real and solid Piety; but they have com­monly been found among Enthusiasts, who have been evi­dently under the Power of Imagination.

And as this is the real Truth of the Case, and known to be so by all who know any thing of the History of the World, ought we not to be fearful and suspicious, when these Effects, common among Enthusiasts begin to appear and threaten to be general? And would not such a Temper be more safe than that which is peremptory in determining these Things to be the Operations of the SPIRIT, condemning all who chuse to speak of them with a jealous Caution.

I am sensible, that there are some Scripture Instances pleaded in favour of these Effects on the Bodies of Men. It is said, that the three Thousand, in the Acts, who were pricked in their Heart, CRIED OUT, saying unto Peter, and to the Rest of the Apostles, What shall we do? Yes, and some have carried the Matter so far, as to declare it pro­bable that they made a GENERAL OUT-CRY, in the Assembly. But this is said entirely without Book. There is no mention made in the Text of any CRYING OUT at all. It is only observed, that they said to Peter and the Rest of the Apostles, Men and Brethren, What shall we do? And this they did, no doubt, in a sober Manner, without any of those Shrikes which are so common at this Day. It is evi­dent indeed, that they were brought to be clearly sensible of their Sin in Crucifying the Lord of Glory; and they are re­presented in Consequence of this, as enquiring with a become­ing Sollicitude of Soul, what Method they should take in or­der to obtain Pardon. But nothing is related of any violent Commotion in the Passions: To be sure, not as discernable as any Effects upon their Bodies. Nothing of this Kind ap­pears from the Story: Neither is their any thing suggested from whence such a Thing may be collected.

How these Persons enquired of Peter and the Rest of the Apostles, what they should do, is difficult to determine. Whi­ther they Spake out in the Assembly, or repaired to them more privately; some to one Apostle, and others to another. Nor [Page 7] is it a Matter of any Importance to the purpose for which this Instance is brought. For if they spake out in the Assem­bly, it is likely from the Introduction to this Story, that it was after Sermon was over: Neither is there the least Hint given, as tho' they were hurried by their Passions to interrupt the Preacher, or bring forward any Disorder in the Time of Preaching: Neither if they did speak out was it in inarticu­late Sounds, in a way of Screaming and Shrieking; but in plain and intelligable Words; and this for a good Reason, that they might be instructed in the true Method of obtaining Forgiveness with GOD, of which they had no Notion, but were entirely ignorant even of the first Principles in the Sin­ner's Reconciliation by JESUS CHRIST.

The next Instance is that of the Jaylor, of whom it is said, that he trembled and fell down before Paul and Silas, enquiring what he must do to be saved. But the Case of this Jaylor was extraordinary; and if such trembled and fell down who were in like Circumstances with him, no one could wonder at it. The Story in short is thus. While Paul and Silas were in Prison, under the Charge of this Jaylor, there suddenly came an EARTHQUAKE, shaking the Foundations of the Prison, and at once opening all the Doors, and loosing all the Bonds of the Prisoners. This happened at Midnight, awaking the Jaylor out of his Sleep to his great Surprise. But what heightned it very much was his beholding the Effects of this Earthquake, its having made Way for the Escape of the Prisoners, by setting open the Prison Doors: This car­ried him so far beyond himself, as that he drew his Sword in order to make Way with his Life, but that he was prevented by Paul's crying out, We are all here. And now it was that he called for a Light, and sprang in and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.

The Circumstances of this Man, you see, were very sin­gular. There were many Things concurring to alarm his Fear. There was not only an Earthquake, a terrible (and perhaps miraculous) one; but it happened in the dead of the Night, and at once awoke him out of his Sleep, which could not but exceedingly affright him; especially, when [Page 8] he remembred the certain Hazard his Life was in if the Pri­soners had made their Escape, as he concluded they had, when he saw the Prison Doors all open. How could it be, but that a Man under such Circumstances, should be infi­nitely surprised? What Wonder if the Fright that he was in should affect his Body, and appear in a visible Tremor on him? It is no more than might be expected of any other Man in the like Case.

But it will, perhaps, be said, that this trembling was owing to the Conviction he was under, and proceeded from the SPIRIT of GOD, impressing his Mind with a Fear of Hell and Wrath. This, I know, hath been often asserted with a great deal of Assurance; but the Text says no such Thing: Neither can it be proved from any Thing that is here related of the Jaylor. It is true, he asked, what he must do to be saved. But it is as true, that his trembling was in the Prison, when he sprang in among the Prisoners; but his Question about Salvation after he had brought Paul and Silas out: And he might for any Thing that appears to the contrary, have so far recovered himself as to have done trembling BEFORE he asked this Question; or if when he enquired about Sal­vation, he was in a trembling Condition, it is more than can be proved, that this trembling did not arise from the Fright that he had been in from the Earthquake, and the Appre­hension he had of his Prisoners being gone. To be sure these were Causes sufficient to produce this Effect. They would, in all probability have had a like Influence upon any of us. Why then should this Effect be attributed to the immediate Agency of the divine SPIRIT, when a natural Cause sufficient for its Production may be assigned, and is actually spoke of in the Story it self? And where is the Difficulty in supposing that the divine SPIRIT might take Occasion, from the Fright the Jaylor was in, to convince him of Sin, and put him upon the Enquiry, What he must do to be sa­ved? And in this Light the Matter appears easy and plain. His TREMBLING was owing to his Surprise naturally pro­duced: HIS QUESTION to the Influence of the Holy SPI­RIT, now operating on his Mind.

[Page 9] But then it is pleaded, that he not only trembled, but fell down. And if he did really fall down, as being overcome with Fear, the Earthquake that shook the Foundations of the Prison (which was his Charge) and open'd its Doors, would be sufficient to account for it. But it may be this falling down, instead of being the Effect of Fear, was rather a voluntary Act, design'd as a Mark of Respect and Reverence to Paul and Silas, when he now looked upon as Men of God, in a very high and exalted Sense. It is no Objection against this Sense of the words, That the Jaylor's bringing out Paul and Silas intervened between his falling down, and asking them, what he must do to be saved. For he might prostrate him­self before them to do them reverence as Men of God; or he might, in this Posture ask them into his House, or make his Acknowledgment unto them for not treating them as became their Character. And there is the more Reason to enterpret the Words in this Sense, as it was common in those Days, in such a Way as this, to address to Persons who were esteemed Prophets sent from God. So Peter Jairius the Syrophenician Woman * and some others, fell down at Christ's Feet. So Cornelius fell down at Peter's Feet And this, most probably, was the Case here: To be sure, it cannot be proved that it was not. So that this Instance which has been so much talk'd of, is little to the Purpose.

And the same must be said of that of Saul afterwards Paul. It is true, he is spoken of as falling to the Earth, and as be­ing in a trembling astonished Condition, when he said, Lord, What will thou have me to do? 5 But it is as true, that his Circumstances, at present, were as extraordinary as these Effects upon his Body. He was suddenly, and miraculously encircled with Light shining from Heaven. He was personally and immediately spoken to, with an articulate audible Voice, by the LORD JESUS CHRIST himself; He was struck in­stantly [Page 10] and totally Blind, and continued so for three Days.—And now what Wonder is it, if he fell down amazed! If when he spoke, it was with Trembling and Astonishment! The hardiest Sinner alive, in like Circumstances, would have been terribly surprised; and if the Surprise he was in, had discovered it self in trembling and falling down, none could have reasonably wondered at it. But what is this to the like bodily Effects, where there is not the like Cause to pro­duce them? Is it any Vindication of the Propriety of temb­ling and falling down in ordinary Cases, because Paul trembled and lay prostrate when he was addressed to by the SON of GOD himself from Heaven, and miraculously struck blind? There is no Analogy between the Case of Paul and those his Example is brought to vindicate; and therefore no ar­guing from the one to the other.

But it will, probably, be here said, Paul was now struck with Conviction of his Guilt in persecuting Christ; and this Con­viction was the true Cause of his trembling & falling down. In answer to which, I doubt not, but Paul was made thro'ly sensible of his Guilt as a bloody Persecutor. But for any to say, this was the Cause of the Trembling and Amazement he was in, is to give their own and not the Scripture Account of the Mat­ter. As Paul himself tells the Story it was thus. There suddenly shone round about him a Light from Heaven; upon which he fell to the Earth. i. e. this miraculous shining Light had such a powerful Influence on him as to strike him down; and this perhaps it did in so sudden a Manner, as to give him no Time for the Exercise of his Thoughts. And while he lay thus prostrate, he was again surprised with the Voice of the Son of God himself, from the excellent Glory, pointing him out by Name, as a Person who had been injurious to him: And to this it was owing, that he spake trembling and astonished. This is the plain Scripture Account of the Matter. There is no Doubt but Paul had upon his Mind a Sense of Sin and Guilt, was conscious to himself of his ill Treatment of Christ and his Deserts on that Score, but it was not so much the Sense of his Guilt, as the external awful Manner in which he was spoken to, that occasioned the Tremor on his Body. The Amazement Paul was in, and the visible miraculour Ap­pearance, [Page 11] and Address of CHRIST to him, are connected in the History as Causes and Effects: And the Causes are not only sufficient for the Production of the Effects; but the Effects such as naturally follow from them, and might justly be expected. And shall the Surprise of Paul, with its Ope­ration on his Body, under such extraordinary Circumstan­ces be pleaded in Vindication of the like Surprise and Opera­tion of it, where there is no such Cause to produce it? It is unreasonable: Such arguing would not be admitted in any other Case whatever; neither ought it to be in this.

I know it may be said, that GOD can so reveal himself to the Mind and Conscience of the Sinner, as to set him trembling, and cause him to fall down, without any such external visible Appearance. But this was not the Case with Paul: There was something very awful and surprising, that outwardly af­fected both his Sight and Hearing: And therefore there is no reasoning from this Instance to those where there are no such external Applications to the Senses. Nay, should it be allowed (and I see no Objection against it) that Paul was internally and well as externally wrought upon; yet even this will not make it reasonable to argue from his Case to others, where there is only the internal Operation; because there is something wanting in all such Cases that was in his, and which produced those Effects which were visible on his Body. So that upon the whole I see not that the Case of St. Paul, is of any Service in Vindication of those Effects up­on Mens Bodies, that have been of late common.

The last Instance is that of Felix, which is the more wil­lingly mentioned, because it serves to shew, in some Mea­sure, the Usefulness of human Learning, which hath of late been so much despised by some both among the People and Teachers: Tho' to do Mr. Edwards Justice, he is not one of those that despise it.

All the Argument that there is in this Instance lies in these Words of the English Version, Felix trembled: The Words translated trembled, are in the Original, emphobos genomenos; and every one in any Measure acquainted with the Greek, knows that the Effect of Fear in bodily trembling is not the [Page 12] Thing pointed out in this Phrase. When trembling thro' Fear is spoken of in Scripture, another Word properly ex­pressive of the Thing is made use of: Nor do I think that this Word is ever used in this Sense. It properly indeed signifies Fear, and may sometimes be taken to signify great Fear; but trembling thro' Fear is not the Thing intended by it.

But enough has been said to show, That the Texts which have been brought to justify these bodily Effects, are little to the Purpose.

3. Thirdly, We are told, That ‘It is no Argument that an Operation that appears on the Minds of a People, is not a Work of the Spirit of God, That it occasions a great Ado, and a great deal of Noise about Religion.

If the Noise and Ado be such as is agreable with the Na­ture of christian Religion, and such as hath always appeared in the World when the Spirit of God hath been poured out remarkably upon Men, then indeed it would be no Argument against the present Scene, but rather an Argument for it.

But if this Noise and Ado be of a different and contrary Nature, it is an Argument against it.

Mr. Edwards observes, That ‘true Religion is of a contrary Nature to that of the Pharisees, that was often­tatious, &c. And therefore if the Noise and Stir about Religion, which now appears in the Land is generally ostentatious, then it is an Argument against its being true Religion.—Now what can be called Ostentaion if this be not, for Persons to make a great Noise in Publick about their Conversion, telling how long they have been New­Creatures, running about and inviting Men to come to Christ, and telling them that if they do not now come they will be damned, and that they will bear Witness against them at the last Day; praying in the Churches, and the like.—And who can deny but that there have been such Things very common in all Quarters of the Country?

Again, If the Operation that is upon Person's Minds, makes them noisy and boisterous: If it produces a wrangling Spirit, and expresses itself with great Vehemence and Bit­terness [Page 13] against all such as they are pleased to call Opposers; this is an Evidence against the Work's being divine; And that because this Noise and Ado is directly contrary to that Gentleness and Meekness, which are the genuine Effects of the Spirit of God.

It is very reasonable to suppose, that when there is an extraordinary Operation upon the Minds of Men from the Spirit of God, that there will be much Talk about Religi­on; but it does not appear very probable that when Per­sons Minds are under the Operation, that their Mouths should be filled with Railing and Bitterness.—And how much of this Language hath been heard among us, from the Mouths of such as have made no low Pretensions to Grace? What gross Names have they called such as could not see like them, nor speak in the same lofty Expressions in Favour of the Work?—Carnal Wretches, Hypocrites, Fighters against God, Children of the Devil, cursed Pharisees, with numerous other, have been the Names they have had bestowed upon them by their charitable zealous Neighbours.—And does this sound like the Language of a Christian? Does this look like the Temper of one born from above, or of one under the Convictions of the divine Spirit?—Does it not rather argue a very bad Disposition, an unmortified carnal Heart, puff'd up with Pride and vain Glory?

4. Fourthly, We are told, That ‘it is no Argument that an Operation which appears on the Minds of a People, is not the Work of the Spirit of God, that ma­ny that are the Subjects of it, have great Impressions on their Imaginations. Now tho' Persons having Impressions on their Imaginations, does not always prove that they have not the SPIRIT of GOD: Yet when such Impressions are very general, and carried on to an extraordinary Height, in those who are supposed to be under the SPIRIT'S Operati­on, I think this must be a Stumbling-Block to all judicious Persons. However one might give a philosophical Account of this Phenomenon consistent with the supposition of a divine Impression upon the Mind, yet I think, it is reasonable to Examine, Whether ever such Things have been common a­mong [Page 14] Persons upon whom GOD hath remarkably poured out his Spirit? If not, I think, that barely the Possibility of the Thing proved by philosophical Speculation, will hardly remove the Difficulty. I believe all will allow that these Impressions upon the Imagination, if they arise so high, as Visions and Revelations, are vastly Disserviceable to true Religion, upon several Accounts; and particularly as they tend to take off Men's Attention and Regard to the Word of GOD; and indeed to lessen the Credit of the divine Re­velation; and it is something difficult to conceive that GOD should take a Method to carry on a glorious Work of Re­ligion in the World in such a way as would directly tend to the Disparagement of his written Revelation. Indeed if such Instances were rare, it might seem more reasonable, to sup­pose them accidental Effects of the Spirit's Operation upon the Minds of Men: But the Case is far otherwise, as I sup­pose every one knows that hath conversed much with Peo­ple, in such Places as have been said to have most remark­ably shared in the Effusions of the SPIRIT.

5. Fifthly, It is a Thing not very favourable to the pre­sent Work, that Example hath been made use of in order to carry it on: Not but that Examples are sometimes useful for the promoting of true Religion. A Christian who by a virtuous and good Life, and the Exhibition of a Temper conformed to the great Rules of our holy Religion, and the Image of its divine Author, discovers to the World the Ami­ableness and Excellency of Religion, may be very serviceable to the Cause of Religion, and strongly recommend it to such as behold his good Conversation in Christ Jesus. But I presume the Work so much talked of, and so highly extolled by some, hath not been promoted by such Examples as this; whilst some particular Appearances of the Work, we know have been multiplyed thro' the Virtue of Example: Thus for Instance, Crying out, Falling down, Visions and Trances, have been very much produced by Examples. If one Person in an Assembly hath cried out, this is said to affect another and another, and presently great Numbers in the Assembly [Page 15] cry out. Now I am of Opinion that we have much less Reason to think that these Cryings out which are thus pro­duced by Examples, are the Effects of the Operation of the Spirit upon the Mind than we should have, if the Persons who thus cry out had not been moved to it by such Exam­ples. For any one tho' but little acquainted with humane Nature, may easily conceive how this may be effected, with­out supposing any Operation of the Spirit upon the Mind.

And then it may farther be considered, that Enthusiasts have always been observed, by Example, to communicate such Phaenomena or Appearances, as are peculiar to their Sect. Any one that is but a little vers'd in their History, well knows that their Peculiarities (which very much resemble what hath been so frequently and generally among our selves of late) have been very much produced by Example. And all those Christians who have had an ill Opinion of Enthusiasm have supposed it very easy to conceive that such Phoenomena might be produced without the Operation of the divine Spirit upon the Mind: And they have also supposed that it is easier to account for them than it would have been, had they not have been produced by Example.

6. Sixthly, It is said, That ‘it is no Sign that a Work that is wrought amongst a People is not from the Spirit of GOD, That many who seem to be the Subjects of it, are guilty of great Imprudencies and Irregularities in their Con­duct. But I must have Liberty to say, That the numerous Imprudencies, gross Irregularities, the uncharitable censorious Spirit, which have appeared among the Subjects of this Work, and in those that have been mainly improved in promoting of it, have a very ill Aspect upon the Work. The Irregularities and Disorders that were once in the Church of Corinth, are indeed produced as an Argument in favour of the present Work. This Consideration, it is supposed is sufficient to prove that the late and present Im­prudencies, Irregularities and Disorders among us, may consist with a glorious Work of the SPIRIT of GOD, and are no Reason to suspect whether the Work is divine.

[Page 16] I could wish that our Disorders and Confusions were no worse than those were in the Church of Corinth. But be that as it will, I think it ought to be observed, that so far as the Irregularities in the Church of Corinth prevailed, so far Religion was upon the decline among them. It is true, ‘This Church had been blessed with large Measures of the SPIRIT of GOD:’ But however, Religion languished as Disorder increased.—Disorders may be supposed to be both Marks and Causes of the Decay of Godliness.

To vindicate this Work (notwithstanding the manifest Imprudences, and even sinful Irregularities of some who are improved as great Instruments to carry it on) the Instance of Peter is mentioned, who was guilty of a great and sinful Error in his Conduct, of which the Apostle Paul speaks in Gal. 2. 11. But this Instance as bad as it is, will by no Means parallel the Errors and sinful Conduct of those Per­sons who have been accounted the chief Instruments of car­rying on the present Work.—I will only instance here in the uncharitable censorious Spririt which they have disco­vered, and which is said * to proceeed ‘from Mistakes they have embraced concerning the Marks by which they are to judge of others Hypocrisy and Carnality, &c. To which I reply, Let it proceed from what it will, it is a very wicked Spirit, and directly contrary to the Spirit and Tem­per of the Gospel. How far such a Spirit may consist with a State of Grace, it is not to my present Purpose to enquire. But I presume that there can be no Instances given of any remarkable Work of GOD'S Grace carried on, when Men of such a Spirit and Conduct have been chiefly made use of as the Instruments.

It is no Secret, and I think, ought not to be disguised, that those Persons who have been thought to be the main Instruments in promoting the present Work, are Men ex­ceedingly remarkable for a censorious uncharitable Temper: Ever disposed to judge and condemn their fellow Christians, [Page 17] and especially the Ministers of the Gospel. And it is well known that some of the most pious and faithful Ministers in the Country, that is, such as have been accounted so, have been condemned by them as Pharisees and carnal Men. I do not say, that all that appear zealous to promote the pre­sent Work discover such a censorious Spirit: But it is no­torious, that those that have been most zealous, at least many of them, have discovered too much of it. They have judged and condemned those whom, if they had had the smallest Share of Modesty, they must have thought much better Men than themselves.

And then farther, it seems to me to have an ill Aspect upon the Work, that as it hath been greatly promoted by such censorious Preachers, the same Spirit hath been generally conveyed to such as have been thought to have had these Im­pressions of the SPIRIT. This, I confess, appears to me, a very melancholy Thing. If this be not the Case in ge­neral thro' the Land, I should be glad to be informed of it; but sure I am, it is the Case in general in those Places where I have had Opportunity to make Observation. Those Persons that pretend to have had any remarkable Experience of a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD upon their Hearts dis­cover a very uncharitable censorious Spirit: And that much beyond what they were wont to do before they had such Experiences. This looks very dark.

7. Seventhly, It looks also very dark to me, that there are so many and so great Errors in Judgment, "and so many Delusions of Satan" appearing where this Work is sup­posed to be carried on in the most glorious Manner.

It cannot indeed be expected that Man in this imperfect State should be perfectly free from Error in Judgment: But if it appears that some very gross Errors which have lately sprung up among us, have been embraced by those who have signalized themselves by their Zeal for the present Work, and by those also that have been supposed to be the Subjects of it, this is a very melancholy Consideration, and looks very suspicious. That there have been Errors is con­ceeded [Page 18] by Mr. Edwards, and must be by all whose Minds are not loaded with Prejudice: And I am of Opinion, that they are gross Errors.—I will mention one, which to be sure deserves that Character—It is this. Viz. A Person that hath been solemnly set apart to the Work of the Gos­pel Ministry, and preaches sound Doctrine, and lives a regu­lar and good Life, but is not converted, hath been often said to be, not a Minister of CHRIST JESUS, but one of the Devil's Ministers: And that it is as impossible that such a one should be instrumental in converting a Sinner, as it is for a dead Man to beget a living Child. This I believe all sober Persons will look upon as an Error. But in my Opinion the Error of those Persons who have with much Zeal preached after this Manner is much greater than at first it may appear to be; for ALL Persons with them are unconverted, who have not experienced the Work of GOD upon their Hearts just according to their particular Scheme: Nay farther than this, all those who are not very forward to relate their Ex­periences, and make an open and publick Declaration of the Work of GOD'S SPIRIT upon their Hearts in their Con­version—By this Means, as was observed before, many worthy and faithful Ministers have been pronounced uncon­verted; and this hath alienated the Affections of many of their People from them. And I think it is worthy of Obser­vation, that the Work in such Places generally goes on most among those that are disaffected to their Ministers.—Which I confess makes it look very suspicious whether this Work which is so much talked of, especially in such Places as have been now described, is not the Effect of a party Spirit, a Spirit of Opposition.

Another Error that hath been preached with great Zeal and Fervor, and imbibed with greediness is, That Persons ought not to pray to GOD, until they are converted; That to tell an unconverted Person that he must real God's Word, and meditate and pray, is as bad Advice as the Devil himself could give.

Again, there are many that embrace this Notion, That Persons are not to pass a Judgment upon their State from [Page 19] any Thing that they find in themselves upon Self Examination. If Persons examine their own Hearts, and compare them with the Word of GOD, and then make a Judgment upon themselves according as they find their Hearts to agree or disagree with the Rules of GOD's Word; this is a certain Mark of a Hypocrite; for every true Christian hath another sort of Evidence, viz. The immediate Suggestions of the SPIRIT who witnesseth to them that they are the Childen of GOD: This, they say, comes like a Flash. And I have observed that such Persons are exceeding confident of their good Estate, and are very forward to let every Body know their Confidence. How far such Persons may be deluded by Satan I pretend not to determine. But Mr. Edwards sup­poses that "some Delusions of Satan may be intermix'd with the Work". I hope none will be so severe upon him for this, as he and his Prefacer are upon those that do not fall in with their Sentiments about the present Work, viz. to suspect whether in this he may not be guilty of the unpar­donable Sin against the Holy Ghost. I shall take particular notice of these hard Speeches hereafter.

And here I agree with Mr. Edwards, that it looks pro­bable that there are some Delusions of Satan, in some that make great Pretensions to be the Subjects of the present Work. Sure I am, that when Persons run into such en­thusiastick Notions as I have mentioned, and others that might be mentioned, they give Satan a great Advantage against them. It is easy to see that Satan may, if he be per­mitted, lead them into strange and pernicious Delusions.

But Mr. Edwards observes under this Head, that the ‘same Persons may be the Subjects of much of the Influen­ces of the SPIRIT of GOD, and yet in some Things be led away by the Delusions of the Devil,’ adding the remarkable Passage to illustrate it, viz. ‘And this be no more of a Paradox than many other Things that are true of real Saints, in the present State, where Grace dwells with so much Corruption, and the new Man and the old Man subsist together in the same Person, and the King­dom of GOD and the Kingdom of the Devil remain for [Page 20] a while together in the same Heart.’ This I confess, is to me a very great Paradox indeed, that the Kingdom of GOD and the Kingdom of the Devil should remain together in the same Heart. That Grace dwells with much Corruption, I suppose, every one will acknowledge; but when the King­dom of GOD is set up in a Person's Heart, Satan's Kingdom is at an End. However, Satan may tempt and afflict the Chil­dren of GOD, his Kingdom in them is demolished. This I think, CHRIST plainly teaches us, Matt. 6. 24. No Man can serve two Masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye cannot serve God and Mammon. But according to Mr. Edwards, a Man may be a Servant of the Devil, and led away by his Delusions, and yet be a good Man. This certainly savours of ANTINOMIANISM, to say no worse of it. I should think that if a Person should give never so plausible an Account of his Conversion, and afterwards should appear a Servant of the Devil, we should have no Reason to think such an one converted. But I know there are many at this Day, that are not of my Mind in this.

How far a good Man may be led away with Satan's De­lusions is not much to the Purpose to determine; but I think, it may be safely concluded, that that which leads Men to expose themselves to Satan's Temptations is not from GOD. And I look upon it a very melancholy Thing, that there are so many who pretend to have experienced much of the Influences of the SPIRIT of GOD, who by their professed Principles, (and such Principles too as they are very tenacious of) lay themselves open to the Delusions of the Devil.

But notwithstanding all this, Mr. Edwards supposes ‘that the Work in general may be the Work of the SPIRIT of GOD.’ I do not well understand what Mr. Edwards means by the Work in general. If he means the extraordi­nary Appearances in those that are supposed to be the Subjects of this Work, such as their crying out, falling down, bodily Agitations and convulsive Motions, Swoons, Trances and Visions: If he means that these in general are the Work of GOD, I [Page 21] confess, I can see no Evidence of it, These Things seem to me in the general to proceed from some other Causes. And yet, I think, Mr. Edwards must by the Work in general, mean these Things, or what amounts to much the same, those Impressions upon the Mind from whence those Ap­pearances proceed; for I believe these extraordinary Appear­ances are the only, or at least, the main Things, from whence Mr. Edwards, and many others, are so very confident, that there is such a glorious Work going on in the Land.

8. Eightly, It hath a very dark Aspect upon the Work, that there are so many that are thought to be the Subjects of it that fall away into gross Errors and Scandalous Practices.

Mr. Edwards says, p. 34. ‘That there are some Counterfeits is no Argument that nothing is true: Such Things are always expected in a Time of Reformation.’ What Mr. Edwards means by Counterfeits and Apostates, (for he also uses this Word under this Head) we may learn from the Instances which he gives. ‘Some eminent Per­sons in the Christian Church; some that GOD had en­dowed with miraculous Gifts of the Holy Ghost, referred to in Heb. 6. beginning. An Instance of these, he says, was Judas. Another Instance he mentions is that of Nicolas. So in the Time of the Reformation from Po­pery, how great was the Number of those that for a while seemed to join with the Reformers, that fell away into the grossest and most absurd Errors, and abominable Practices. p. 36. And it is particularly observable, that in Times of great pouring out of the Spirit to revive Re­ligion in the World, a Number of those that for a while seemed to partake in it, have fallen off into whimsical and extravagant Errors, and gross Enthusiasm, boasting of high Degrees of Spirituality and Perfection, censuring and condemning others as carnal.’ Those therefore according to Mr. Edwards, are to be accounted Counter­feits and Apostates, who maintain gross and absurd Errors, fall into abominable Practices, whimsical Errors, gross Enthu­siasm, boasting of their own Spirituality, censuring and condem­ning [Page 22] others as carnal. I agree with Mr. Edwards, that such as these may well be looked upon as Counterfeits and A­postates. And then I think, that besides these, there is another Class, that may come into the Reckoning, viz. all such as pretend to have had great Convictions and Discoveries and yet do not live better Lives than they did before. If they do not fall into any scandalous Practices, yet if there is no Alteration in their Conduct, but they live just as they formerly did, I think they must come into the Number of Counterfeits. For it must be supposed that if they had been really wrought upon, and their Convictions and Discoveries were genuine, there would be a Change appearing in their Conversation; especially if before it were something loose and unguarded. The Effect of this mighty Work, one would think, would in some Measure appear; and the Fruits of the SPIRIT not be altogether concealed.

Again, if those that pretend to these Convictions and Discoveries are such as before led a vicious Life; and do now abstain from those particular Vices to which they had been addicted, and yet give into others as bad or worse, such Per­sons are to be accounted Counterfeits. And I very much fear that the greater Part of those that have pretended to have been the Subjects of the present Work, come under one or the other of these Classes; and if so, it cannot be said, that the Work in general is of GOD. If it could be made to appear otherwise, I should heartily rejoyce.

9. Ninthly, Another Thing which seems to have a dark Aspect upon the Work is, that it seems to have had its Rise and to have been very much carried on by such Kind of Preaching as does not well agree with the Preaching of CHRIST and his Apostles.

Mr. Edwards asserts, ‘That it is no Argument that a Work is not from the SPIRIT of GOD, that it seems to be promoted by Ministers insisting very much on the Terrors of GOD's holy Law, and that with a great deal of Pathos and Earnestness.’

[Page 23] In order to settle this Point, I think, we need do no more than look into the Method of Preaching of CHRIST and his Apostles; and compare this Preaching which hath produced these wonderful Effects, with the Sermons we have recorded in the New Testament.

NOW CHRIST and his Apostles usually in their Preaching addressed themselves to the Reason and Understanding of their Hearers: They laid Matter for Conviction before them in a calm and rational Manner; and thus they treated their Hearers as rational Creatures; not beginning at first to Work upon their Passions and Affections. They used very much Gentleness and Mildness in their Preaching. Thus when CHRIST preached his Hearers wondered at the gracious Words which proceeded out of his Mouth. So the Evangelist John says, The Law was given by Moses, but GRACE and Truth came by JESUS CHRIST. And thus it is said of such as en­joy the Gospel Dispensation, Ye are not come unto the Mount that burned with Fire, nor unto Blackness and Darkness and Tempest, and the Sound of a Trumpet, and the Voice of Words, which Voice they that heard intreated that the Word should not be spoken to them any more.—And so terrible was the Sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and QUAKE: But ye are come to Mount Zion.—Heb. 12. 18.

If this be a Description of the terrible Manner of the giving of the Law; and of the mild and gentle Manner of the Dis­pensation of the Gospel, as I conclude all Expositors judge; it appears to me that those Preachers who have had the greatest Hand in promoting this Work, come nearer to the Example of the giving the Law from Mount Sinai, than to that of the first Promulgation of the Gospel.

But it will be said, Did not CHRIST preach the Terrors of the Law, and the Damnation of Hell? In answer to that, this I say, That CHRIST expressed himself with a great deal of Severity against the Seribes and Pharisees, denoun­ced many Woes against them, but then it is to be consi­dered that they were professed Enemies to CHRIST and his Religion, and therefore he did not use that Mildness, when he addressed himself to them, which generally appeared in his Preaching.

[Page 24] It is farther to be observed, that a great Part of CHRIST'S preaching was taken up in explaining Morality, and showing Men their Obligations to it. This hath, I believe, been wholly neglected by many of those Preachers who have been supposed greatly successful in carrying on the present Work. Some of them have been so far from this that they have not spared to speak contemptuously of Morality and Good­Works, in their Sermons: And they have filled them with Declamations against unconverted Ministers, and Letter-learned Pharisees; as if they thought that the Example of CHRIST in expressing himself with Severity against those that were his professed and malicious Enemies, would justify them herein.

And I will appeal to any one who hath had Opportunity to be acquainted with these Things, whether those Preachers that have been thought to be most successful in the present Work, have not mainly, (if not wholly) addressed the Pas­sions of their Hearers, and neglected to address their Reason and Understanding. If so, not only the Example of CHRIST and his Apostles, but also the Reason and Nature of Things is against them. It hath always been the Method of false Teachers, thus to work upon the Passions of Men, while they have artfully avoided addressing their Reason; because their Doctrine and their Designs would not bear the Exa­mination of unbiassed Reason. I would not be thought to charge these Gentlemen with any ill Design; but I think it is abundantly evident, that their Conduct, in this Instance, hath very much resembled that of false Teachers, who have always been very shy of close Reasoning, chusing rather to have their Scheme admitted by the Affections.

Now that this is an Argument against the Work let any one judge that observes a Remark which Mr. Edwards makes, p. 76. ‘It is chiefly young Persons that have been the Subjects of it, (that is of the Work he is speaking of) who have less Steadiness and Experiences, and are in the Heat of Youth.’ Can it be wondered at, if such Per­sons, when they have had their Passions violently attacked by these Preachers, and by their Imitators the Lay Exhorters, [Page 25] I say, can it be wondered at, that they should cry out, and discover such violent Emotions of Affection, as have been common; and yet remain in the same State that they were in before. I cannot see here how the crying out, &c. is any Argument of the Operation of the SPIRIT of GOD upon them. If Persons should cry out thus when they heard a Minister preach in a Calm and rational Manner (following the Example of CHRIST,) I should think it looked much more likely that such Persons were under the Influence of the DIVINE SPIRIT.

It is undoubtedly a decent and beautiful Thing for Mi­nisters to preach in such a Manner as to shew that they are in earnest in what they say. They should feel the Weight of the Truths they deliver. And this I take may be done ge­nerally in a mild and calm Manner, or at least without the Boisterousness and violent Emotions of Passion, which ap­pear in those Ministers who have been thought the most successful.

When Ministers particularly address themselves to Chil­dren and young Persons it looks very improper to discover violent Emotions of Passions. I know no Example in Scrip­ture that can justify this. And it seems most consonant to the Reason and Nature of Things, that young Persons, and especially Children, whose Affections are tender, and whose Understandings are very weak, should be addressed with much Meekness and Gentleness, and the Ministers first Care should be to inform the Judgment, and let Light into the Understanding. But, sure I am, this is very different from the Method that hath been taken by those Preachers and Exhorters that I have been speaking of.

Thus I have briefly touched upon Mr.Edwards's nega­tive Instances. I proceed to say something concerning what he says positively, when he undertakes to shew, ‘What are the sure, distinguishing Scripture Evidences and Marks of a Work of the SPIRIT of GOD, by which we may proceed in judging of any Operation we find in our selves, or see among a People, without Danger of being mis­led.’

[Page 26] And here I acknowledge, that the Rules and Marks he mentions are good; but cannot join with him in his ex­plaining those Rules, and applying them as he does.

Particularly, ‘When that Spirit which is at work a­mong a People operates after such a Manner, as to raise their Esteem of that Jesus that was born of the Virgin, and was crucified without the Gates of Jerusalem; and confirms and establishes their Minds in the Truth of what the Gospel declares to us of his being the Son of GOD, and the Saviour of Men; it is a sure Sign that Spirit is a SPIRIT of GOD.’ Yet his Way of expressing this Rule and explaining of it might lead one to make a wrong Application of it. Thus—‘When that Spirit that is at work among a People is observed to operate, &c.’ and seems more to confirm and establish their Minds, &c. it is a sure Sign, &c. p. 42—So in the next Page, ‘If the Spirit that is at work among a People—seems to beget in them higher and more honourable Thoughts of CHRIST than they used to have, and to incline their Affections more to him, it is a sure Sign, &c.’

When I consider that there may be much Shew and Ap­pearance of Esteem and Affection for CHRIST, where there is no Reality, I doubt not but that Multitudes of Persons have seemed to have a high Thought of CHRIST, and very ardent Love to him, who have been wholly under the Influence of an Enthusiastick Spirit.

So under his 2d Rule concerning the SPIRIT'S operating against the Interest of Satan's Kingdom. p. 45. he explains himself thus, p. 46. ‘So that we may safely determine from what the Apostle says, * that the Spirit that is at work amongst a People that is observed to work after such a Manner as to lessen Men's Esteem of the Pleasures, Profits and Honours of the World, &c. must needs be the SPIRIT of GOD.’

[Page 27] Here I would enquire, Whether it hath not always been observed, that when a Spirit of Enthusiasim hath prevailed, there hath not been at first a great Appearance of what Mr. Edwards here speaks of? Have not Enthusiasts seemed to be very much weaned from the World, and very eagerly pursuing after Heaven?

Mr. Edwards goes on to speak of the Convictions and Awakening of Conscience that Persons are under; and en­deavours to prove that these could not be from Satan. ‘What do those Men do with their Reason that suppose, that the Spirit that operates thus is the Spirit of the De­vil?’ I fear, Mr. Edwards is not fully acquainted with the Wiles of the Devil, nor considers how far Satan may be Transformed into an Angel of Light. He lays down this Rule p. 47. ‘The Man that hath an awakened Con­science is the least likely to be deceived of any Man in the World.’ If by the Man that hath an awakened Conscience, he means one whose Mind hath been greatly terrified by a boisierous Preacher or Exhorter, who hath ad­dressed only his Passions, not his Understanding; been heaping Terror upon him, without giving him any clear and distinct Account of the Way to Salvation. Such a Person, thus ad­dressed, is I think very likely to be deceived: He is prepa­red to receive a false Comfort, and a false Joy. If ever Satan hath Power to give a false Joy to a Sinner, one would think he might more easily do it when the Mind is under violent Perturbation, and the Understanding and rational Powers are in a Manner dorment.

And besides, if we do not suppose Satan to have any Hand in deceiving and deluding such Persons, I see not why it may not be supposed that such Persons are more likely than o­thers to be deluded by the working of their own Imaginations. And if Mr. Edwards doubts of this, let him consult his ve­nerable Predecessor, who expresses himself thus, ‘Con­vinced [Page 28] Sinners, hearing that they shall certainly be ruin­ed that do not believe in CHRIST, and that they that do believe shall be saved, set themselves in their own Strength to work their Hearts to this Duty, and after a while imagine that they have got the Victory, and have pre­vailed over their Unbelief, and wrought their Hearts to a Closure with CHRIST.’ This Faith is not right.

There is a Principle that very much prevails among those that pretend to have been the Subjects of this Work, which I am sure exposes Persons to be deceived both by Satan and their own Imaginations: It is this, That Christians are not to judge of their Experiences by the Word of GOD. That Christians are not to examine into the Grounds of their Hope and Joy by the Word of GOD, because there is the immediate Wit­ness of the Spirit, which is more certain to them than the Word of GOD can be. Now let any one judge, whether this Principle does not very much expose a Person to Delusion; and especially a Person that is in great Terror of Mind.

Indeed, If the Convictions of Sin which Persons are un­der are followed with a true Conversion and thorough Refor­mation, all must acknowledge that this is the true Spirit. But Mr. Edwards will determine the Case before this can be judged of, as we shall see by and by.

I will not now make any particular Remarks upon what Mr. Edwards says under his three following Rules; but consider how he applys these Rules in the Inferences he draws.

His first Inference is this, viz. ‘That that extraordi­nary Influence that hath lately appeared on the Minds of the People abroad in this Land, causing in them an un­common Concern and Eagerness of Mind about the Things of Religion, is undouhtedly, in the General, from the SPIRIT of GOD.’

I cannot but observe, That this Inference is expressed ve­ry cautiously. That extraordinary Influence that hath of late appeared, is, in the General, from the Spirit of God. I would fain know how it is evident that this Influence is in the Ge­neral from the SPIRIT of GOD, and not universally so. I [Page 29] suppose those Scripture Rules which he makes the Ground of this Inference are universally true. What need then of this Caution? unless he be doubtful with Respect to Facts. If the Doubt lies here, I suppose that it must arise from hence, That we are not fully certain that what appears to be an extraordinary Influence upon Persons Minds, is so in Reality. It may be counterfeit, or it may be a De­lusion. And I believe no Man in his right Mind can doubt but that this is the Case. Well then, How shall we cer­tainly determine how much of it is real and how much of it is counterfeit or delusive? If some Part of it may be so, How can we certainly know that it is in the General from the SPIRIT of GOD? Perhaps, it may be but a smaller Part from the SPIRIT of GOD, and the Influence in general may be from another Cause. For we cannot look into the Hearts of Persons that appear to have these Influences upon their Minds, and we cannot judge wholly from what is external: And besides we may not wait to see what the ‘Issue of Things will be, and what Fruit those that are the Sub­jects of this Work will bring forth in their Lives and Conversations.’

But is it not rash to draw such an Inference, or positive­ly to conclude that this Influence in the General is from the SPIRIT of GOD, when our Judgment in this Matter must depend upon that which is uncertain. And methinks this Consideration might serve to shew the Rashness and Absur­dity of such a Conclusion, This which is propagated by Ex­ample. One Person in an Assembly seems to have a strange Influence upon his Mind, crys out, &c. This uncommon Appearance strikes another,—and another, &c. Now I believe that any Man acquainted with humane Nature can easily account for this Out-cry, without supposing that it pro­ceeds in the General from the SPIRIT of GOD. But whe­ther we can well account for it or not, yet we know that Enthusiasm hath generally been propagated after this Man­ner, and therefore I am at a Loss how we shall certainly determine that this is in general from the SPIRIT of GOD, and not Enthusiasm, if we are not allowed to wait the Issue [Page 30] of Things. I am very sure that there are now among us many Things which much resemble Enthusiasm. The Tem­per and Conduct and Principles of many Persons that pre­tend to be the Subjects of this Work exactly correspond with their's whom we used to call Enthusiasts.

Mr. Edwards pretends to mention Facts to justify him in drawing this Inference. Thus he says, p. 62. ‘It is notorious that the Spirit that is at work, takes off Per­sons Minds from the Vanities of the World.’ It is to me very evident, that when this Work first began in the Country, there was a great Appearance of this. Persons seemed to have their Minds much taken off from the World, and ran into an Extream this Way; neglecting the proper Business of their Callings; Multitudes not taking that Care which they ought to have done for the Support of them­selves and their Families; but spent their Time from Day to Day in running after strange Teachers and Lay-Exhor­ters. I think the Expression of St. Paul is applicable to the Case, They shall heap to themselves Teachers having itching Ears. It would be well if the Conduct of Persons in this Case could be accounted for no other Way than as Mr. Edwards supposes, and I would charitably hope concerning some of them, that they had a real Concern about [...] Souls. But I believe Mr. Edwards might have passed a better Judgment in this Case if he had waited a little Longer. before he had drawn his Inference.

He goes on, ‘It is notorious that it puts Persons upon a more diligent Improvement of the Means of Grace which GOD hath appointed.’ How far this was true when Mr. Edwards deliver'd and publish'd this Discourse, I do not say. But this I say, That it is now notorious that it puts a Multitude of Persons upon contemning the Ministers which GOD hath set over them. It puts them upon re­proaching and slandering the faithful Ministers of CHRIST; it puts many upon withdrawing from the slated Ministry they were under, and setting up seperate Meetings; it puts them upon shewing a greater Esteem for private Meetings of their own setting up, than for the public Ordinances of [Page 31] CHRIST; it puts them upon discovering a greater Esteem for ignorant Exhorters than for the most able Ministers. These are Facts that cannot be hid from any, unless it be from some that have been very much out of the Way of hearing and reading indeed.

Mr. Edwards goes on with his Facts, ‘It is also noto­rious, That in general, it works in Persons a greater Re­gard to the Word of GOD, and Desire of hearing and rea­ding of it.’ Here again Mr. Edwards expresses him­self with his usual Caution,—in the General—Perhaps he observed that this Influence had a different Effect upon some, and I believe others have observed that it hath a very different Effect upon a great many at this Day. Instead of Persons having a greater Regard for the Scripture, it is no­torious that their Esteem hath been drawn off from the Scrip­ture, and they have substituted the extraordinary Influences of the SPIRIT, which they have supposed themselves to be under, in the Room of the Scripture. And some have been led to a wild, extravagant, and mystical Interpretation of Scripture, which they say the SPIRIT of GOD reveals to them; and this they pretend to be as confident of as of their own Existence. These extravagant Notions vastly lead of Men's Minds from the Word of GOD.

Mr. Edwards goes on, p. 63.—‘I was furthermore notorious, That the Spirit that is at work makes Persons more sensible of the Value of that JESUS that was cru­cified.’—What their inward Sentiments are concern­ing CHRIST, and their Desires after him, I suppose are not notorious to any one. The only Way, that I know of, whereby we may form a Judgment concerning these Things, is, by hearing Men's Profession, and by observing their Conversation. The former of itself is not sufficient, for we know Men may pretend a great Love to CHRIST, and De­sire to have an Interest in him, when yet they have no Love to him. CHRIST says, If ye love me, keep my Commandments. And we may assure ourselves. That is Men have not a con­scientious Regard to the Laws of CHRIST, but live in an open Violation of them, all the pretended Regard to CHRIST [Page 32] is vain. It is abundantly evident that those Persons who have made the greatest Pretences to the Influence which Mr. Edwards speaks of have greatly failed in Regard to the Duties of Morality. Yes, and many of them have openly spoken contemptuously of them. They do not place their Religion in Obedience to the Laws of CHRIST, it is a more spiritual Religion that they pretend to. Their Reli­gion consists very much in Impulses, Visions, and Revelations. They have the immediate Witness of the SPIRIT, the SPI­RIT assuring them that they are the Children of GOD. To judge of their State by any Rules of Scripture, would be placing too much in their own Righteousness. They are emptied of themselves, extreamly humble, and yet are ex­treamly prone to proclaim their own Goodness to the World. Their Religion is a Mixture of Enthusiasm and Antinomian­ism. They are mighty apt to censure and condemn all that differ from them.—These Things are notorious, "It can't be but that these Things should be apparent."

Mr. Edwards supposes it a very easy Thing to determine p. 65. ‘What Kind of Influence the Operation they are under has upon People's Minds; whether it seems to confirm them in a Belief of the Scriptures, or to lead them to Deism.’ And I believe so too,—for I think nothing will more naturally lead Men to Deism than to give heed to Impulses and particular Revelations,—than to pre­tend to the extraordinary Influences of the SPIRIT; for if Persons really had such Influences from the SPIRIT of GOD, as many pretend to, the Scriptures, would be in a great Measure useless to them: When therefore they are very confident of their Visions and Revelations, we find their Regard to the written Word of GOD very much abated; for tho' they pretend a great Veneration for the Scripture, yet it must be according as the Spirit reveals the mystical Sense of it to them; and thus, by Degrees, the Scripture is to them, as they stile it, a dead Letter. I believe all will acknow­ledge that Enthusiasm hath a Tendency to introduce Deism. Observation and History sufficiently confirm this. And that there is Abundance of Enthusiasm among those who [Page 33] pretend to be the Subjects of this Work, I presume none will deny.

Mr. Edwards observes, p. 66. ‘Whether Persons Convictions and the Alteration in their Dispositions and Affections, be in a Degree and Manner that is saving, is beside the present Question.—Scripture Rules serve to distinguish the common Influences of the SPIRIT of GOD, as well as those that are saving from the Influence of other Causes.’ Here then I would enquire, Whe­ther there be any Rule of Scripture that would determine that to be a common Influence of the SPIRIT of GOD, that leads Men farther off from true Religion than they were before? That this hath been the Case with Respect to Multitudes that have had this extraordinary Influence he speaks of, is beyond any Dispute. That Pride and Osten­tation, that Censoriousness, Enthusiasm, Antinomianism that have appeared in Multitudes that have made great Pretences as the Subjects of this glorious Work, have most certainly led them farther from true Religion than they were before. They have the greatest Confidence imagi­nable that they are in a State of Favour with GOD, and yet make it evident by their Conduct, that they belong to the Kingdom of Darkness. They shew themselves to be worse Men than they were before they made any such Pre­tences; and by Reason of their Confidence about their good Estate, they have removed themselves out of the Reach of Convictions.

But here perhaps it will be objected, that what I have mentioned is only the Case of a few, compared with the Multitudes that have been the Subjects of this glorious Work. To which I answer, That if this be the Case of any of them, then Mr. Edwards hath no certain Rule to judge by in this Case, unless he will take Time to observe the Event and Issue of Things. If his Rule fails with Re­gard to one Person, how does he know but it may with Re­gard to another, &c.

But here I must remark, that Mr. Edwards is speaking of the EXTRAORDINARY Influence that hath lately appeared [Page 34] on the Minds of People. In what Respects the Influence is extraordinary he does not plainly tell us. I suppose that the Work of GOD'S SPIRIT upon the Minds of Men, in convincing and converting them, is the same that it always hath been. I cannot therefore conceive why he calls it an extraordinary Influence, unless it be, because there are some extraordinary Appearances attending of it, which he supposes to be Effects of this Influence; such as falling down and crying out in the Time of Worship, Faintings, Swoonings, Twitchings, Trances, Visions, &c. Were it not for these extraordinary Things, I suppose Mr. Edwards would not have taken such Notice of an extraordinary Influence. And the Reason that I think so is, because wherever these Ex­traordinaries have appeared most, there the glorious Work hath been said to be carried on in a remarkable Manner: On such Places, it is said, GOD hath in a wonderful Man­ner poured out his SPIRIT! Now I think it proper here to consider whether the State of Religion in those Places that have been most remarkable for these Extraordinaries is better than it was before these Things appeared among them. I presume that Mr. Edwards well knows that ma­ny Places where these Things have most prevailed are at this Day in the utmost Confusion; and that those Persons in them that made the greatest Pretensions to the extraordi­nary Influence of the SPIRIT, have run into the greatest Disorders and Extravagancies. From whence I cannot but judge that the extraordinary Influence which hath been made on the Minds of People hath not had a Tendency to make them better, but worse. I do not deny that there have been any Persons truly converted in Places where these Ex­traordinaries have appeared: Nor do I deny but that GOD might make use of some of these extraordinary Things to awaken Persons, and put them upon serious Consideration. But this is beside the Question. The Point to be proved is that those particular Persons who have been the Subjects [...] extraordinary Influence are, in the General, better Men; or, at least, in a fair Way to become so. Which, according to the Observation that I have been able to make, [Page 35] is far from being true. This extraordinary Influence pro­duces these Effects in them; it fills them with Pride and Vanity, which they discover in boasting of their Humility and other Excellencies. They take all Opportunities to talk of their own Goodness, and the Assurance they have of the Favour of God. And as they are relating, (as they call it) what God hath done for their Souls, they do not fail of adding a Word of Exhortation. They discover the greatest Forwardness to intrude themselves into the Work of the Ministry, and to make way for themselves, they are very much disposed to vilify and reproach the Ministers of CHRIST, representing them as unworthy of their Office. Thus their Pride leads them to censure their Fellow-Chris­tians, and especially the Ministers of CHRIST; and if any one reproves them in the most mild and gentle Manner, they will discover the greatest Resentment, and will not fail of calling the Reprovers Hypocrites, Pharisees, &c. unless they are Persons Whose Reputation they may think would be Proof against their Slanders. This Influence prompts them to break thro' the Bounds of Modesty, Decency and all Order. It runs them into numerous Errors both in Conduct and Doctrine. They generally have a Tincture of Enthusiasm and Antinomianism: And these Principles will serve to solve the Difficulties which are made Objections against them and their Brethren, with Respect to their mo­ral Conduct.

These are some of the Things which I have observed very common, and which others could not have but have observed, for they were not done in a Corner. And I think, it is fully evident that these Things have been the Effects of that uncommon Influence that Persons have been under. And indeed if we separate these extraordinary Things from the Work, what is there remaining that may determine it extraordinary. Let us only consider this Work strip't of these remarkable Appearances,—such as crying out,—falling down,—Twitchings and convulsive Motions—Foamings and Frothings,— [...] and Revelations—Exhorters,—Censoriousness,—Pharisaism, &c. and I de­mand [Page 36] where its Extraordinariness is—If these Things were deducted from the Religion of the present Day, what would there be in our Religion that would make it appear different from what it used to be. And yet Mr. Edwards will not pretend that any or all of these Things are sure Evidences of a Work of GOD. And yet these are the Extraordinaries that appear among us, and it is upon the Account of these Things, at least many of them, that it is so confidently affirm­ed, That there is a glorious Work of GOD going on in the Land.

I make no doubt but there is and always hath been a glorious Work of GOD's Grace among us. But if we pretend to distinguish the Work of GOD that is going on at this Day, from the Work of GOD that has been carried on from Time to Time among us, the Distinction must arise from the Extraordinaries, when yet, not one of them, no, nor all together, are Evidences of the Influences of GOD'S SPIRIT; but, in the General, we may assure our selves they proceed from other Causes.

I shall here particularly take Notice of Mr. Edwards's Caution respecting the Sin against the Holy Ghost.

P. 87. ‘If there be any that will still resolutely go on to speak contemptibly of these Things, I would beg of them to take Heed that they be not guilty of the un­pardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost.’—A little after, he says, ‘If the Work goes on, it is well, if among the many that shew an Enmity against it, and reproach it, some be not guilty of this Sin, if none have been already.’

I believe Mr. COOPER thought this would sound some­thing harsh to some Persons, and therefore when he, in his Preface to Mr. Edwards's Discourse, expresseth something like it, he adds, P. 15. ‘I hope these Words have dropt from my Pen, not in an untemperate Zeal, but with due Caution, and some suitable Solemnity of Spirit.’ As to the Solemnity of Spirit in him or in Mr. Edwards when they wrote as they did about the unpardonable Sin a­gainst the Holy Ghost, I judge not; but, I think, their Zeal appears to be somewhat untemperate, and not according to Knowledge.

[Page 37] When Mr. Edwards says, ‘If there are any that will still resolutely go on to speak contemptibly of these Things &c.—I suppose by these Things he means the Extra­ordinaries, such as crying out, falling down, &c. those un­common external Appearances which the Work hath been attended with. If Persons had a serious Thoughtfulness about Re­ligion, and should discover their Concern for Souls in such a Way as Persons have usually done, it cannot be imagined that Mr. Edwards would think that those Persons whom he thus Cautions, would speak contemptibly of these Things, i. e. of the Appearances of Religion in those Persons. For it is evident, that in his Caution he hath a particular Re­ference to his Brethren in the Ministry, p. 88. I believe the Ministers in this Country never were won't to speak contemptibly of a Disposition to Piety that they could dis­cover in their People. Therefore I conclude he here means the uncommon external Appearances that attend the Work; and why should it be thought an unpardonable Sin to speak con­temptibly of these Things. Mr. Edwards seems to suppose it may be lawful to contemn the Peculiarities of Enthusiasts, p. 55. ‘There is a Counterfeit of Love, that often appears amongst those that are led by a Spirit of Delusion: There is commonly in the wildest Enthusiasts a Kind of Union and Affection that appears in them one towards another, arising from Self-Love, occasioned by their a­greeing one with another in those Things wherein they greatly differ from all others, and for which they are the Objects of the Ridicule of all the Rest of Mankind; which naturally will cause them so much the more to prize the Esteem they observe in each other of those Peculiarities, that make them the Objects of others Con­tempt.’—Now it appears very evident to me that most if not all the uncommon external Appearances which have attended this Work are the VERY THINGS for which Enthusiasts have been the Objects of the Ridicule of Mankind. They are, (at least some of them) the Peculiarities which make them the Objects of others Contempt. Mr. Edwards does not here censure all Mankind for contemning Enthusiasts upon the Ac­count [Page 38] of these Peculiarities; and yet it is an unperdonable Sin against the Holy Ghost to speak contemptibly of these very Things, when they are found among our own People. This to me looks like Partiality.

Let us a little consider what are the Peculierities for which Enthusiasts are contemned and ridiculed by the rest of Man­kind. Are not these some of them, viz. Violent Agitations of Body, falling down, heaving of the Breast, pretending to extraordinary Communications from the Spirit of God.—The Light within, Revelations, Trances, ‘depreciating the Word of God, and setting up the Light within, or some other Rule above it.’ These are some of their Peculiarities; and all these Things are among the uncommon Appearances that attend this Work, as every one must know that hath been much conversant where it hath been carried on. Now I cannot see the Odds between speaking contemptibly of these Things in these who are called Quakers, and in those who have not yet had that Term of Reproach cast upon them; since we are not allowed to suspend our Judgment, and wait to see the Issue and Consequence of Things, for at first, to be sure, they appear just alike. ‘Those that are waiting to see the Issue of the Work (says Mr. Ed­wards) think that they shall be better able to determine by and by: But they are probably, many of them, mis­taken.’ p. 85.

He goes on to run a Parallel between those Persons and the Jews who saw the Miracles of CHRIST, but waited to see better Evidences of his being the Messiah. I hope he does not imagine that the uncommon Appearances which he speaks of are as full a Proof of an extraordinary Influence upon the Hearts of Men by the Spirit of GOD, as the Mi­racles of CHRIST were of his being the true Messiah; and yet I cannot well see the Force of his Reasoning without this Supposition.

Mr. COOPER in his Preface seems to go upon this Supposition, where he says, p. 15. ‘Those (he is speaking of Opposers) if they had Opportunity to be rightly informed, I am ready to think, would have been [Page 39] Disbelievers, and Opposers of the Miracles and Mission of our Saviour, had they lived in his Days.’ What can be meant by being rightly informed but having a just and true Account of the uncommon Appearances that attend this Work? If so then he must suppose that these Things (how­ever the Generality of sober Men look upon them to be Stumbling-blocks) are as full a Proof of a glorious Work of the SPIRIT of GOD in the Land, as CHRIST'S Miracles were of his divine Mission.

And indeed I see not how Mr. Edwards can reasonably say as he does about the unpardonable Sin against the Holy Ghost without supposing this. But it seems very wonderful to me, that any Person should think that there is such full Evidence of an extraordinary Work of GOD'S Grace going on in the Land, as there was that CHRIST was the true Messiah. For these very Things which are the main (if not the only) Proofs that can be pretended, are such Things as are Stumbling-blocks; to the greater Part of thinking Men. Now tho' it be granted that there were many Stumbling­blocks in the Way of the Jews, which prevented their be­lieving on CHRIST; yet those Things were not the Evi­dences of his being the true Messiah, or at least the main Evidences which were appeal'd to.

But suppose the Evidences which accompany this Work were as full Proof of its being what Mr. Edwards supposes it to be, as the Miracles of CHRIST, and all other Evi­dences in Conjunction, were of his being the Son of GOD, (which is infinitely remote from Truth) yet should I think it rash in any one to conclude from hence, that those Persons who reject this Evidence are guilty of the Sin against the HOLY GHOST. For it does not appear to me that any Person was guilty of this Sin while CHRIST was upon Earth.

Those Persons that blasphemed the Miracles of CHRIST in casting out Devils, saving, that he did them by the Help of Beelzebub the Prince of Devils, are supposed by some to have been guilty of the unpardonable Sin against the HOLY GHOST: But there is no Evidence of this. CHRIST does indeed Caution against this Sin, but in his Caution in­timates [Page 40] to them that they had not yet been guilty of the unpardonable Sin. Whosoever speaketh a Word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven: But whosoever speaketh a­gainst the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, Mat. 12. 32. They had hitherto only spoken against the Son of Man: But he cautions them against speaking against the HOLY GHOST, i. e. rejecting the Evidence that should be given for establishing the christian Institution, when the HOLY GHOST should come according to his Promise. It was now the Ministry of the Son of Man. But soon after his Resurrection from the Dead, the Dispensation of the HOLY GHOST succeeded. And CHRIST here admonishes them of their Danger, if they should blaspheme the HOLY GHOST as they had done him. And that those Persons were not guilty of the unpardonable Sin in the Days of CHRIST'S Ministry, appears very evident from hence, that the Offers of Salvation were made to them by CHRIST'S Apostles after the HOLY GHOST was given. Altho' they had rejected and blasphemed CHRIST, and had withstood all the Evi­dence he gave of his divine Mission, yet GOD was pleased to grant them a farther Trial, and give them farther Evi­dence of the Truth of the christian Institution by the Re­surrection of CHRIST from the Dead, and miraculous Gifts of the SPIRIT.

Thus, as I conceive, it doth not appear from the Scrip­tures, that any Persons were ever guilty of the unpardonable Sin, but those that rejected & blasphemed the miraculous Gifts of the HOLY GHOST. And this I think is sufficient to shew the Rashness of charging any Person in our Day, with be­ing guilty of this Sin in speaking against the present Work, unless there had been the same Miracles wrought to con­firm it, that were wrought in the Apostles Days, or were other Proof equal to it; but his, I presume, no Man, in his right Mind, will assert.

Mr. Edwards, under his last Head, does, in the General, speak well, and I wish that he and his zealous Friends may follow the good Advice he there gives.

THE END.

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